Whilst at a friend’s charity launch, the host excitedly insisted I should meet his neighbour. “He’s a furniture designer!” he beamed. As the event itself was far beyond the realms of furniture and interiors, I expected to find myself feigning interest whilst some bloke called Heiri gave it the big one about refurbishing his Granny’s coffee table or weaving a hammock from horse hair. I reluctantly shuffled over anyway and to my complete surprise I was introduced to Matthias (‘This’ for short) Weber; an accomplished designer and genuine nice guy, who designs furniture based from his cool studio in downtown Zürich. Unfortunately, our meeting was cut short, that is, until we were coincidentally re-introduced some months later alongside Alfredo Häberli and Luke Pearson at the Alias Party in Milan. Who knew eh?
Having gotten to know more about This’s work, I called in to his studio in the trendy Hardbrücke area of the city some weeks later. There I found him, surrounded by furniture prototypes, sketches, works in progress and models (of the furniture kind). Over a great coffee, This told me about his journey to date, initially training as a mechanic before working with some of Switzerland’s most renowned furniture designers and now making waves under his own banner. I asked him a few questions for your reading pleasure….
You initially trained as a mechanic – what prompted the switch to design?
I grew up in a family of creatives. My mum a textile designer, my father a typology specialist at the School of Art in Zürich. My uncle – a great, calm person – was teaching design and interior architecture, also at the School of Art. I just wanted to do what he did in his precious workshop…
Ever consider becoming a car designer?
No – we don’t have a big history of car design here in Switzerland and I’m not the biggest car fan, so that was never my wish. Especially as a young designer, I wasn’t really aware of my skills, so was looking for small design studios with smaller projects – as opposed to working in large teams in the car industry.
What was your breakthrough moment in the furniture industry?
I see my whole career as an empiric process, with every project that I’m working on to become a product. To me, each one is a breakthrough.
You’ve worked with Alfredo Häberli, Christophe Marchand and Hannes Wettstein. How valuable was that experience and how does it compare to solo work?
It’s been a competitive everyday challenge for me, to work on various projects and to fulfil the visions of my author bosses. Like craftsmen who have done this for decades, these were my ‘wanderyears’ where I learned from – and practiced with – the experienced ones.
What single piece of advice do you give to furniture designers just starting out?
I encourage them to start their career working for established studios and also to try to develop their own things and get in touch with brands…
What designs do you currently have in development?
We’re working on a wardrobe collection to suit the needs of schools, universities and public spaces for Swiss company MAKK, a new range for VERYWOOD; an Italian furniture brand focused on hotels, gastronomy and cruise ships… plus some new upholstery for German manufacturer Rolf Benz.
What challenges do you see in the furniture industry?
We need to communicate the quality of our products better. We’re all responsible for the fact that consumers have lost their ability to qualify quality.
Last question – who’s your (living) design hero?
Rodolfo Dordoni. Antonio Citterio.
“My goal is to give objects a recognisable value, which is perceived intuitively by the user…”
Since 2010, This is also a visiting lecturer in the faculty of design and Art at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Art. Keep your eyes peeled for This Weber – a rising star in furniture design – you can check out some of his inspiration here. And next time you’re at a friend’s party and they offer to introduce you to a furniture designer, go and say hello. You never know who you might meet…
Catch you soon ar kid.
Ben Capper is an award winning Interior Specialist based in Zürich Switzerland, working with Zingg Lamprecht AG on interior and furniture projects for commercial clients. Ben has 20 years experience as a trusted independent consultant to Architects and Interior Designers having completed projects such as Manchester United stadium expansion, private Airport lounges, University campuses for 1400 students and 1000 person office schemes. email@example.com